It’s Time for EMV to Reach Smaller Retailers

Visa recently shared research that indicated a 66 percent decrease in counterfeit fraud in the U.S. thanks to merchants shifting to chip-enabled cards (comparing June 2017 to June 2015). This is, of course, great news. However, it’s not time to celebrate just yet.

We know that most EMV adoption to date has been with large chains in tier one and two. The remaining merchants, small and medium enterprises, have yet to make the shift. They are easy to identify. How often to your trips to the market, independent coffee shop, and favorite boutique retailer, do you see a hand-written note on the payment terminal that reads “Chip cards not accepted, please use swipe?” The fact is, in nearly half of our in-store shopping experiences, we’re still using mag-stripe technology for the transaction. It’s time to for the laggards to catch up.

Fewer Excuses To Migrate To EMV

Many smaller merchants fall into a few categories when it comes to their EMV adoption. Some still don’t see the benefits of upgrading to EMV terminals. Others haven’t yet made the upgrade because they don’t understand the need, or their POS software vendor hasn’t taken the steps to address EMV. It’s this last example — the ISV who hasn’t adopted EMV — that must be addressed.

Admittedly, when EMV was first brought forth in the U.S. market, it came with enough confusion for many ISVs to take a “wait and see” approach. However, there have been many improvements to the EMV ecosystem in the time since. For example, the certification process, which was once very slow, has become much faster (especially Quick Chip certifications).

Many processors didn’t realize the tsunami of certifications that would overwhelm the system. This, despite going through a similarly painful process in Europe back in 2011. Indeed, if we, as an industry, had reviewed world history as it related to EMV upgrades, we’d have seen that a 2015 liability shift — in the biggest payments market in the world — was never going to happen overnight.

In the past couple years, some processors found it wasn’t cost- or time-efficient to do the certifications internally because they struggled with the resources and in-house expertise. As a result, many processors have outsourced the certification process to companies like UL, who are far better suited to manage the process.

For the processors that do continue to do certifications in-house, they’re leveraging test tools more efficiently and they have a better overall understanding of EMV in relation to their own legacy platforms.

Finally, two years down the track from the liability shift, all the various entities have a better handle on EMV and the certification process and ISVs can proceed without caution.

Still, there’s another simpler option for ISVs not eager to undertake this process. At Creditcall, we’ve worked with ISVs who cater to the mid-tier and smaller merchant. By using our pre-certified ChipDNA technology to effectively outsource the payment component of their solution, one simple integration allows a complete EMV upgrade to take place which works with a multitude of payment devices and processors.

Regardless of whether an ISV wants to navigate an EMV upgrade themselves or work with a partner like Creditcall, there are no longer obstacles facing a developer from tacking this critical payment upgrade that can greatly benefit small and medium merchants. 


Jeremy, a payments veteran, has driven Creditcall’s technical development since 1999. He is responsible for all design and implementation of card payment solutions and the portfolio of EMV Kernels and oversees the maintenance of the company’s PCI DSS Level 1 compliance.